Aunt Katy's Civil War Tale
As the prospects for going home during the winter months became sure, Uncle Lonzo began suggesting to Bea that they might be married during his leave. Bea, not feeling that she knew him as well as she would like before becoming his wife, tried to put him off. Finally toward the end of December he wrote to everyone asking that they help him get Bea to join the family. This letter from her was tucked into the pages of his diary.
December 21, 1863
Dear Friend Lonzo,
Truely I am being besieged, however friendly and loving the motive may be. First Lou and Min began urging me to make up my mind to be their dear sister as soon as you come home. Then your father drove in to get me for Sunday dinner and he and your mother spent the whole time dropping hints how good a man you'd be and what a good husband you'll make some girl. Bert aint quite so delicate and he undertook to browbeat me into saying "yes" all the time he was driving me back to the Inn that evening. Finally Wesley called me to his bedside, tho he's been up and about for some time now so I suspect he was trying to play on my sympathy, and told me how sincere you were in your affection for me, among other things.
"I don't think it was quite fair of you to set them all at me this way. Even tho we have written to each other for a year now we did only meet once and that is hardly enough to get to know each other very well. I have become fond of you and of your whole family tho they are near to drive me to distraction over this thing. And I promise to give you an answer when you come home. Perhaps seeing you in person will help me know what is right for us.
"We are all looking forward to your visit and wish it were that you would be home for good. If I find that I can not be your wife, I will always be a sister to you.
Uncle Lonzo wrote back that he had three sisters already and he'd see her soon.
Accepting the United States bounty of $402 and the New York State bounty of $75 plus the promise of thirty-five days furlough, the regiment re-enlisted for the remainder of the war. January seventh the men started for home in a body, stopping over in Washington to attend the productions at Ford's theater one night and Grover's theater the second night. Monday, the eleventh, they left Baltimore at two AM and arrived in Elmira at 11 PM. Uncle Lonzo stayed at the Troy House there for a day or so being sick with a cold and wanting to do some late Christmas shopping too, I imagine.
o'clock Wednesday night he came knocking on Ma's
and Pa's door. They got up and fixed coffee and
Ma dosed Lonzo's cold while they talked for an
hour or so. Uncle Lonzo kept staring at Pa till
he got to laughing for he said Lonzo looked as
tho he were seeing a ghost.
"Any man with a wound like your's would be a ghost if he had any sense." Uncle Lonzo told him.
Ma's horsehair sofa wasn't the best place in the world to sleep but since soldiers learn to sleep where and when they can, Lonzo managed. Early the next morning Ma slipped over to the Inn and got Bea to come over for breakfast then sent her into the parlour on some pretext or other. There lay Lonzo in his rumpled, ill-fitting uniform, face flushed from his cold and lean from lack of good food for so long. That was enough to show Bea her heart's desire and he woke up to find a weeping, laughing girl throwing her arms around him.
Not having been a mouse in the corner, I don't know what happened next for neither would ever tell. Ma said they came to breakfast all smiles and with eyes full of stars. Bea had said "yes".
Grandma planned their wedding for Bea had no family but a brother who was away in the army. They were married after chruch that Sunday and went to Elmira on the cars for a few days. Lonzo being a saving man, had money to spend on his bride and delighted in showering her with presents. They had their photographs made and she had the most elegant album he could find to keep them in.
They stayed at the Troy House went to the theater and went each night to a different restaurant until Lonzo was satisfied he had impressed his bride enough with his worldly-wise ways. Then they went home to the farm where he could enjoy being cosseted by his wife and mother and know his father's pride in him. There he and Bert talked long and went into town to include Wes in their reminiscences.
Lonzo had saved this letter from cousin Lyman which came while he was home.
Camp in Lookout
Valley Nashville Tenn.
January the 29 1864
Dear Ouncle and Aunt,
As I have a few leasuare moments to my self I thought that I would improve them in writing to you. I guess you have thought that I dident think much of my relation because I did not write. The reason I have not writen before is that I am ashame to write for I cant spell nor write so enney one can read it but I thought that I would write and if you can't read it jest send it back and I will read it for you.
It is very plesant hear today. It is jest as warm as I care about having it but I expect to see some warm days next summer. I allmost dread to see sumer come. I supose you have sean some cold weather up thare by what I have heard. Well it was some what cold hear if i am enney judge. Thare was a number froze to death in Chatanauga abought fore miles from hear but wee have got a veary warm place in the valley and wee have got us lettle log houses and everthing is slick around us. Wee keep our streats swep so it looks veary nice but it will soon play out for I think that Wee will halft to march before long but I hope not. I schould not care so much about it if I was agoing to march home but this marching up to be shot at it hant a veary plesant thing I notice but ouncle it don't make so much diferrence if wee are prepard to meat our god in peas that is what I look at but I hope and pray that I may live so hapy that if wee never see eache other on earth again that I can meat you around the throne of god but I hope and trust that I schall have the privelage of seeing all of my friends again before I die. New of poor Oscar (a cousin) is dead and goan home to rest. I received a letter from Milo and he is well and enjoying himself. Well I have not sean Charles in some time but he was well the last time I see him. He is down to the landing about fore miles from hear. Wee have some drilling to do and some fatigue duty to do jest anough to keep us healthy. Now ouncle as this paper is most scribled over I will halft to close by saying write and you will oblige me veary much.....Lyman
A month later poor Lyman had gone to join poor Oscar. He may never have received the letter his "ouncle" wrote in reply.
As the day neared when he would have to return to duty, Uncle Lonzo tried to persuade Aunt Bea to stay on with his folks but she insisted she would return to the Inn until he came back for good. So after collecting a $300 bond against the county as his re-enlistment bounty and giving it to Pa to keep, Uncle Lonzo started out the 19th of February to rejoin his regiment.